I typically don’t like fussing with point-and-shoot cameras because I much prefer lugging around an SLR because we all know they take superior photographs. There are also way too many choices to choose from that it gives me a headache, but Nikon’s Coolpix S50c has built-in Wi-Fi and I just had to try it out. Wi-Fi on a camera is pretty neat in my book, but there’s more to it than that. Attending back-to-back events virtually makes it impossible for me to post any new hotness that you, dear readers, would want to know about the moment it’s released.
I really don’t like to use adjectives like ‘slim’ and ‘sleek’ when describing products, but these were the first two things that popped into my head when I unboxed Nikon’s latest Coolpix camera. The S50c is a carbon copy of the S50 with the added feature of 802.11b/g wireless connectivity. It also features a ginormous 3-inch LCD, 7.2-megapixels, 3x optical zoom, ISO 1600 capability, and optical lens shift VR (vibration reduction), which is fancy talk for image stabilization.
The UI, albeit archaic, is fairly easy to navigate through via the click-wheel. You won’t be able to tinker with too many manual settings on the S50c as most situations are meant to be handled by the 15 scene modes that vary from a Fireworks mode to a Party/Indoor mode. The S50c covers the basics and the image stabilization comes in handy when you’re handholding the camera with no flash in a low light situation with a slower shutter speed. I’d imagine most people use their camera to take pictures with friends instead of macro shots of a pretty lady bug sitting on your arm. The S50c makes these particular situations easy with a one-touch button that usually takes care of a candid situation with ease. It does a pretty good job of focusing on one face and using that to meter and focus. Any novice will probably find the pictures taken with the S50c adequate for most situations, but I feel as though the Wi-Fi feature caters to a more advanced crowd, so let’s talk about that rather than something most of you are well versed in. But before I do, here’s a quick note on the battery life. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion pack you can expect to get around 80 shots before the battery dies out and the included charger has you back up and running in about two hours.
Like most guys, I don’t look at instructions because I can usually figure out how things work within a matter of minutes. The initial process to fire up the Wi-Fi can be cumbersome, but once it’s up and running you’re pretty much golden. Finding a network to connect to is really the only downfall of the S50c. Once you’re up and running you’ll be presented with two options when uploading images via WLAN and those are “Picture Mail” and “Picture Bank”. You’ll be able to send pictures to just about anyone as long as you have their e-mail address and you’ll be able to adjust the size from full size down to photoprint. All images you choose to send to the “Picture Bank” will be stored on the Coolpix Connect 2 Website and you’ll be able to upload those pictures to your Flickr account, which comes in handy considering you only have 2GB of storage on the Coolpix server. If you regularly upload pics to Flickr and keep your Coolpix account clean then the SD card will fill up faster, so it won’t be too much of a problem.
The Nikon Coolpix S50c isn’t for everyone, but if you’re familiar with Nikons or point-and-shoots, in general, then you probably won’t be disappointed with the quality of pictures it takes. You’ll have to work at it for a bit to figure out the optimum settings for certain situations you know you’ll find yourself in and the UI isn’t the easiest to navigate through, but the Wi-Fi is worth the trouble if you intend to use it for every picture you take. Otherwise your hard earned $350 clams will work elsewhere.